Monday, September 20, 2010
The smell of Godiva chocolate lured Beth toward the doorway of the store. The shelves glittered with brightly colored packages of sweet chocolate truffles. The glass front of the refrigerated counter separated her from a bounty of chocolate choices. She immediately decided to enter the store and buy some of the melt-in-her-mouth chocolate extravaganzas. Is this an impulse or a temptation?
Katie dropped by her brother's house and discovered that his wife has taken their family's turkey platter from their Mom's house and displayed it with her antique plate collection. Katie's surprise turned to shock when she saw the smirk on her sister-in-law's lips and the triumphant light in her eyes. "We'll have Thanksgiving dinner at our house from now on," she said. Katie's face turned red and her hands became fists. "That's what you think!" wanted to spring from the tip of her tongue. Impulse or temptation?
In the small home group, Steve confessed that he didn't understand what the pastor meant in his sermon on Sunday. He was a new Christian who grew up in a family that didn't attend church. Mark on the other hand, understood what the pastor said and had a few of his own thoughts to add. As Steve expressed his confusion for a second time, Mark tired of waiting for the leader to stop Steve and begin answering his questions. He opened his mouth to interrupt Steve. Impulse or temptation?
Each of the three scenes can trigger an impulse or expose a temptation. For each person, the set of circumstances can be either an impulse OR a temptation at different times.
Making an unplanned purchase of chocolate candy is often only an impulse buy with no spiritual impact. It can be a temptation for the person who is fasting for a time. It can tempt a person to spend money unwisely or make a poor choice that harms their health.
Family discord can exert an impulsive pressure on us to protect ourselves and to vent our anger. It can also be a temptation to hurt the other person the way they hurt us.
Sometimes the impulse to fix a situation or to solve another person's problem comes from a servant's heart. The same situation can be a temptation to become impatient, to display our own abilities or to control.
The correct decisions for these scenes cannot be decided on a specific rule for each instance. Oswald Chambers stated the issue clearly: "A person's inner nature, what he possesses in the inner, spiritual part of his being, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the true nature of the person being tempted…" (My Utmost for His Highest, September 17)
I have a challenge for you.
For 24 hours, write down everything that you believe tempts you to sin.
Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you sensitive to the motivation of your heart.
Discover the condition of your spirit.
Then ask the Lord to give you the ability to resist the temptations until those things no longer temp you.
(P.S.: When you overcome that set of temptations, the Holy Spirit will show you a new set to resist.)